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Book Review: Pachinko

The "Pachinko" story by Min Jin Lee is set in Korea and Japan in the early 1900s. It follows a Korean family through several generations, during difficult political and survival times. The main character is Sunja who falls in love with a wealthy stranger. After she becomes pregnant and discovers he was already married with children, she makes the decision to move on with her life alone with whatever it brings to her. She marries a goodhearted and handsome minister and moves with him to Japan. From there life complicates in so many ways. Discrimination, violence, wartime, hard work, poverty were the daily struggles of Sunja and her family. In those difficult times, family stays together supporting and loving each other in any way possible. They are often faced with choices between survival and tradition or morality. Despite the losses and heartbreaks, generation after generation they not only survive but also thrive. This novel is very well written and develops the characters, time, and place in detail. For me, it was a bit slower read, but very educational and complex.

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